A fictional Scared Straight! for the modern juvenile delinquent crowd, Dog Pound follows a trio of teens serving time at Montana’s Enola Vale Youth Correctional Center. There, pill-peddling ladies’ man Davis (Shane Kippel), car-jacking Angel (Mateo Morales), and correctional officer-assaulting psycho Butch (Adam Butcher) get subjected to lessons and threats, including a thug who establishes domination through theft and beatings, and guards who attempt to control their unruly charges by tossing them in solitary confinement when they don’t rat out their fellow inmates. Working from a script co-penned by Jeremie Delon, writer/director Kim Chapiron coaxes arresting performances from his three amateur leads while establishing a convincingly dreary atmosphere of claustrophobic terror and mounting madness. The notion that such facilities breed—rather than rehabilitate—the very types of fury, resentment, and psychosis that landed kids there in the first place is one that Dog Pound makes early and often through repeatedly dull and graphic means. Though initially gripping, the film grows ever more didactic, culminating with deaths and a final explosion of mass violence that—despite Chapiron’s understated and well-modulated direction—reiterates the already obvious point that those in cages will rage.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 29, 2013